Kenya is home to a large number of international students. A good foreign policy, better infrastructure and facilities, and an ever-growing number of higher learning institutions are some of the reasons that make many international students choose the country as a destination to expand their academic goals.
A huge chunk of these students is at Mount Kenya University.
Founded in 1996, Mount Kenya University, often referred by the acronym (MKU) has grown to become an attractive education hub for students not only in Kenya but also across the globe. The number of enrollment is ever-increasing and subsequently the number of international students therein.
Yusuf Usman, a Nigerian citizen, is a student pursuing his masters at MKU. He doubles up as the President of the International Students Chapter. For him, the chance to extend his academic career at an ever-expansive institution proved so inviting.
“I discovered MKU through positive reviews from my friends. Mount Kenya University is the home of international students because the fee structure for citizens and non-citizens is the same. Everyone enjoys equal services in respect to the university’s facilities.”
While being home to about 10 percent of the international student population in the borders, it is relative then that they have an organization that brings them together and agitates for their rights and welfare collectively.
Step in; the International Students Chapter of Mount Kenya University. The organization is structured to consist of a cabinet in-charge of the day-to-day administration.
The cabinet is composed of the Head (referred to as the President), the Vice-Chairperson, Secretary-General, Finance minister, and Information Secretary.
There is a co-ordinator; a staff member assigned by the university to link the organization with the administration. The president, Yusuf Usman takes us through the ISC’s highlights.
“Within one month we have achieved a lot. We were not vibrant before but now we are. Within one month in office, we (the cabinet) have come up with a banner, we are very close to opening our organization’s bank account and for the first time ever we are working hand in hand with the administration.”
Eligibility to the chapter is on the condition that one is an international student. Currently, it hosts students from Japan, South Korea, the United States, Nigeria, Uganda among others.
International students are often accused of seeking preferential treatment from school authorities. Yusuf explains why.
“The university has to give more attention to them because they are from different and very far places. In order for them to observe equality, they have to handle them with more care.”
He adds, “Every student should, however, know everywhere is home. They should not feel discriminated because Kenya is home.”
Getting a student pass is a major challenge that each international student across the world has to battle with. For the ISC, they have focussed over the years to ease the process with relative success.
The group also targets to unite all international students in Kenya and spread a feeling of Kenya is home.
“We are targeting to bring all international students in Kenya together, have a single forum. A single body that gives a sense of belonging.” He further adds, “We are focussing to instill the idea that everywhere is home and you should make yourself feel home.”
In order to achieve these goals, the organization has lined up a series of activities that will also play a key role in marketing the institution.
“We are planning to hold a Kenya International Students soccer competition that will bring the whole of Kenya to MKU. We are also in the process of creating a link for the Kenyan government to deal with one student body directly,” he states.